In the year 1720, Philippe d'Oreleans (Philippe Noiret) rules France as regent to the lat Louis XIV's pre-teen heir. Socially liberal but financially reckless, Philippe stokes his treasury with profits from France's American colonies Louisiana and Mississippi, even while attempting to administer domestic justice with a slightly even hand. But Philippe's strongest allegiance is to a barely concealed private life of outrageous hedonism and sexual appetites. Witness and provocateur in both whorehouse debauches and court functions is Abbe Dubois (Jean Rochefort), Philippe's scheming would-be archbishop. When a hapless noble's one man secession lands him at the steps of the Paris gallows, Dubois' lust for power and Philippe's obsession with his beautiful young goddaughter create a political pressure cooker that could lead to invasion, revolt or war.